Unlike in many other countries around the world, punters in the Republic of Ireland can actually bet on the outcome of their National Lottery draw – rather than buying a ticket.
There’s nothing wrong with that, in theory, however it means that a large amount of money – estimates put the annual spend on lotto bets at €570 million (£480 million) – goes into the coffers of bookmakers, rather than being donated to charitable causes via the National Lottery.
And now campaigners want to bring an end to lottery betting in Ireland as a result, and Seanad Eireann – the Irish senate that includes the president of the country – has indicated a willingness to introduce a ban on such markets.
A vote has been passed that would ban lotto betting under the National Lottery Amendment Bill (2021), and so bookies could be vetoed from offering markets on which balls will be drawn by the end of this year.
They will still be allowed to offer options like virtual lotteries betting, however markets on which numbers will called at the Irish or UK National Lottery draws will be off the table.
The National Lottery themselves gave evidence to Seanad Eireann, claiming that bookmakers were preventing them from reaching their annual target of monies donated to good causes – they believe that banning lottery betting could see as much as £53 million extra handed to charity each year, as well as generating around £11.5 million for newsagents and other retailers selling lotto tickets.
Barry Ward, the Fine Gael senator who is planning to introduce the bill change, revealed that lottery ticket purchases are a ‘substantial reinvestment into Ireland.’ He said:
“When you spend €1 on the Lotto, the amount that goes into the community isn’t just the 27c that goes to the good causes fund to build sports halls and the like, there is also a fee that goes to the retailer, and the tax implications as well.”
National Lottery representatives also spoke of their concern that young and vulnerable players may eventually end up turning to black market gambling if the rise in lottery betting isn’t curtailed, and referred to other European countries where lotteries are held without wagering being allowed.
Credit Card Ban Proposed
It is illegal to bet on sports in Ireland using a credit card following a voluntary ban launched by bookmakers back in January.
And now senior figures want a similar prohibition to be brought in for the National Lottery – with the ban formalised in law, rather than just on a voluntary basis.
Lotto players are already barred from buying lottery tickets online using their credit card, however there is a loophole in which a customer can buy a basket of items in a shop or supermarket and pay for them – and a lottery ticket or two – on their plastic.
James Lawless, the chair of the Oireachtas committee, wants a blanket ban to be introduced as with sports betting, and said that ‘the same rules should apply to the National Lottery, it would make sense.’